The Complete Biography of Famous Frida Kahlo

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Frida Kahlo was born as Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderon. Frida Kahlo’s date of birth was July 6th, 1907. She was born in Coyoacan, Mexico. Her father, Carl Wilhelm Kahlo, was of descent of Hungarian Jewish origin, born in Germany. While working as a photographer, he immigrated to Mexico, where he met and married her mother, Matilde Calderon. 

Frida Kalo’s life story is interesting. Her mother was a native descendant of Spanish and American Indian heritage. Frida’s family consisted of two elder sisters, Matilde and Adriana, and a younger sister, Cristina. She lived most of her life in the “Blue House.” Her early life was rough due to her family and multiple health problems. Through her artworks, political activity, and feminist movements, she became an icon of the Mexican tradition. 

Frida Kahlo
Frida’s Parents
Frida’s Sisters and Mother.
The Complete Biography of Frida Kahlo
Frida’s Photo Taking by her Father.

Early Life of Frida Kahlo

Before the birth of Frida Kahlo, her mother had borne the loss of a son. Her father’s professional life was rocky throughout the revolution in Mexico. It led to a highly distressing atmosphere at home. The depression compelled her mother to send Kahlo to a babysitter. 
Furthermore, when she was about six years old, she contracted polio. Due to the virus, her right leg stopped developing. As a result, she was in persistent agony and was forced to be bedridden for nine months. She tried her best to hide the deformity of her legs. Her father encouraged her in sports such as swimming, soccer, and wrestling to speed up her recovery. It was the time Kahlo became renowned for long colorful skirts.  

Education of Frida Kahlo

She was drawn towards art at a young age indirectly. Frida Kahlo as a child, would spend endless days at her father’s photography studio. There, she assisted him by processing, editing, and coloring photographs. Her father’s colleague gave her a few sketching classes, which she enjoyed, yet regarded art as a pastime. 
At age 16, she was enrolled at a German school, Colegio Aleman Alexander von Humboldts, in 1922, despite her father’s resistance. However, she was dismissed due to non-compliance with the administration.

She attended a female-dominant school for a specific time until a staff member physically molested her. The same year, she was accepted to the prestigious Escuela Nacional Preparatoria. Her vibrant and outspoken nature, dress code, accessories, and personality quickly set her apart. Amongst 2000 students, Kahlo was one of 35 females enrolled in the school. Here, she delved into politics after associating with students with similar thoughts. Soon, she became part of two groups, the Mexican Communist Party and the Young Communist League. 

When Did Frida Kahlo Start Painting?

On September 17th, 1925, Frida Kahlo and her boyfriend Alejandro Gomez Ariasleft caught a wooden bus when the vehicle crashed into a tramway. She survived but suffered unbearable pain for a long time. This event completely changed her life. The steel handrail of the bus shot into her lower body, coming out the other side. It severely damaged her pelvic region damaging several organs. Furthermore, her already deformed right leg bore 11 fractures and a shattered foot. Her spine and neck were also profoundly injured. She will suffer multiple miscarriages later in life. 
The accident required her to undergo 32 operations and stay at the Red Cross Hospital of Mexico City for many weeks. It was during her rehabilitation she began painting. In 1944, remembering her torment, she illustrated the painting “The Broken Column” to demonstrate the 28 corsets she had to wear for a lifetime. 

Broken Column

How Many Paintings Did Frida Kahlo Paint?

Kahlo described her artwork,” I paint myself mainly as I am usually on my own. Also, I am the subject I know best, so I can paint perfectly”. During her lifetime, Kahlo painted a total of 143 artworks. These included 55 raw and emotional self-portraits. 
After “The Broken Column,” another famous painting was “Without Hope.” The picture represents Frida Kahlo’s helplessness with the force-feeding regimen doctors had prescribed for her. she writes in her Journal, “Not the least hope remains to me…Everything move in time with what the belly contains.” It was the time in her life when she was extremely depressed and had lost her appetite.

Without Hope 1945. Frida has been force-fed.

Frida Kahlo’s Marriage

When Kahlo was at school in 1922, a renowned Mexican muralist Diego Rivera worked on his first government-commissioned mural called “The Creation” in the high school’s classrooms. Even though he was 37 and just 15, she fell for him right then and would often secretly watch him work.  
They reconnected around the end of 1927, about three years after the bus accident. Diego was attracted to the paintings she had created as salvation during her bedridden days. Impressed by her talent, he motivated her to paint further. Over the next 25 years, Kahlo and Rivera painted each other, signifying their relationship in different phases through their artwork. 

They married in 1929 when she was 22 and Diego was 42. Their entire relationship was a complex roller coaster. It included many ups and downs, chaotic fights, multiple extra-marital affairs, and passionate and explosive emotions. 

In the early days of their relationship, her parents often referred to the duo as the “dove and elephant.” The term mainly portrayed Diego’s older, more prominent, famous master of frescoes reviving the mural tradition. On the other hand, Kahlo was a mysterious young dreamer who overcame chronic pain through self-rehabilitation. 

The rocky edge to their relationship gradually progressed, and it was pretty visible through Kahlo’s paintings. 

Diego and Frida Wedding Picture 1929
Diego’s first Government Commission ” Creation” 1922

This painting, in particular, was another of the popular ones. It was a significant indication of Frida and Diego’s marriage. He seems enormous with her at his side. She painted herself with tiny feet, barely touching the ground. Her right arm casually slips in by his hand while his other hand shakes his paint equipment. 

Diego and Frida / The Elephant and the Dove 1931

Even though she quoted under the painting,” Here you see us. Me, Kahlo with my dearest husband, Rivera”. However, this was quite far from reality. The canvas demonstrates subtle tensions with the expressions and hand movements. While painting this portrait, Rivera had an affair with a tennis player, Helen Wills. 

Even though they were each other greatest love, the couple had a turbulent relationship; Frida had numerous affairs with both sexes as well as Diego. She was deeply disheartened when he included an affair with her younger sister, Cristina. The betrayal from a family member shook her, and she responded by cutting off her signature look, the long dark hair. 

Kahlo underwent deep levels of sorrow once again in 1934 when she miscarried. In “Henry Ford Hospital,” she portrays herself naked on the bed with items like a fetus, snail, flower, and pelvis, and bleeding after the incident. In 1937, the Riveras put aside their differences and aided the exiled Soviet communist Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia Trotsky as a united front.

In 1939, the couple divorced, only to remarry again in 1940. This time, Kahlo was far more robust and confident of her worth. She agreed to the marriage after he signed some ground rules she demanded. 

Frida Kahlo’s Profession as an Artist

Some iconic Frida Kahlo paintings include “The Two Fridas,” also known as Frida Kahlo’s twin paintings. She created the masterpiece during her divorce. It indicated her two personalities, one of Frida Kahlo in a white dress and a broken heart, and the other dressed in a colorful dress with her heart intact, symbolizing sadness and liveliness, respectively.

Frida Kahlo’s style of art was primarily self-portraits. She created numerous paintings with different kinds of makeovers, including clothing, hairstyles, and makeup. One common thing all the pictures had in the joint was the deadpan adamant gaze which became her iconic trademark. 

In 1938, she painted “The Suicide of Dorothy Hale” when the actress Hale committed suicide. This artwork was quite a shock and controversy. She painted it in the style of a retablo upon a request as a gift for the actress’ grieving mum. 

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A year later, Kahlo moved to Paris for a while, where she could exhibit some of her masterpieces. She even made friends with fellow iconic artists such as Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. Frida did not feel at home with the town as she felt it was too charming, and her artworks were misconstructed. She retorted that her paintings were personal and not a dream.

In 1941, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo was awarded a commission from the Mexican government to create five varying paintings of celebrated local women. However, she battled numerous personal challenges, such as losing a parent and chronic health issues, so she could not complete the task. 

Despite being bedridden, Kahlo attended her first solo exhibition in 1953. She made the journey with the help of an ambulance and enjoyed the night rejuvenating with other attendees. The gallery has expressly set up a comfortable four-poster bed for maximal coziness. 

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Frida Kahlo Death

Kahlo’s health went for the worse from 1950 onwards. She was affected with gangrene in one of her limbs and had to undergo multiple surgeries, including amputation of the limb. She was hospitalized a few times throughout 1953 and 1954. There were reports of attempted suicide, pneumonia, and other health issues.

Despite her physical restrictions, she was as active as possible in her political endeavors. The last public appearance she made was on July 2nd, 1954, on the occasion of the overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala. A week after she celebrated her 47th birthday, Frida Kahlo was found dead at her Blue House on July 13th, 1954. The cause of death was unsure as the forensic department suggested either a pulmonary embolism or a possible suicide. 

In 1958, the Blue House was converted into a museum, “Casa Azul.

Diego and Frida Picture with a quote from Rivera
Casa Azul.
Casa Azul, Museum.

Frida Kahlo. The Life of an Icon, “THE OFFICIAL EXHIBITION OF FRIDA KAHLO, 2023”

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